Living the Good Life

Consumption in the Qing and Ottoman Empires of the Eighteenth Century


Eighteenth-century consumers of the Qing and Ottoman empires had access to an increasingly diverse array of goods, from home furnishings to fashionable clothes and new foodstuffs. While this tendency was of shorter duration and intensity in the Ottoman world, some urbanites of the sultans’ realm did enjoy silks, coffee, and Chinese porcelain. By contrast, a vibrant consumer culture flourished in Qing China, where many consumers flaunted their fur coats and indulged in gourmet dining.
Living the Good Life explores how goods furthered the expansion of social networks, alliance-building between rulers and regional elites, and the expression of elite, urban, and gender identities. The scholarship in the present volume highlights the recently emerging “material turn” in Qing and Ottoman historiographies and provides a framework for future research.

Contributors: Arif Bilgin, Michael G. Chang, Edhem Eldem, Colette Establet, Antonia Finnane, Selim Karahasanoglu, Lai Hui-min, Amanda Phillips, Hedda Reindl-Kiel, Martina Siebert, Su Te-Cheng, Joanna Waley-Cohen, Wang Dagang, Wu Jen-shu, Yıldız Yılmaz, and Yun Yan.

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Elif Akçetin (Ph.D. University of Washington, 2007) is a social historian focusing on the Qing dynasty. She is currently preparing a manuscript on the social and cultural meanings of corruption in eighteenth-century China.

Suraiya Faroqhi Dr. phil. (Germany), University of Hamburg, is a Professor of History at Istanbul Bilgi University. She has published ten monographs and six volumes of articles on Ottoman history, and is a co-editor of the Cambridge History of Turkey.
List of Figures and Tables
Notes on Editors and Contributors

Elif Akçetin and Suraiya Faroqhi

1 Setting the Stage
Elif Akçetin and Suraiya Faroqhi

Part 1: Dead Grandees and Their Inventories

2 Elite Objects and Private Collections in Eighteenth-Century China: A Study of Chen Huizu’s Confiscated Goods
Yun Yan

3 Ali Paşa and His Stuff: An Ottoman Household in Istanbul and Van
Amanda Phillips

4 Cutting a Fine Figure among Pots and Pans: Aghas of the Sultan’s Harem in the Eighteenth Century
Yıldız Yılmaz

5 Challenging the Paradigm of the Tulip Age: The Consumer Behavior of Nevşehirli Damad İbrahim Paşa and His Household
Selim Karahasanoğlu

Part 2: Urban Life: Generating a Self-Image through Textiles, Pictures, and Buildings

6 Furnishing the Home in Qing Yangzhou: A Case for Rethinking “Consumer Constraint”
Antonia Finnane

7 A Preliminary Study of Local Consumption in the Qianlong Reign (1736–1796): The Case of Ba County in Sichuan Province
Wu Jen-shu and Wang Dagang

8 Women, Wealth and Textiles in 1730s Bursa
Suraiya Faroqhi

9 Consuming Luxurious and Exotic Goods in Damascus around 1700
Colette Establet

Part 3: Food Culture

10 From Artichoke to Corn: New Fruits and Vegetables in the Istanbul Market (Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries)
Arif Bilgin

11 Food and China’s World of Goods in the Long Eighteenth Century
Joanna Waley-Cohen

12 Of Feasts and Feudatories: The Politics of Commensal Consumption at the Early Kangxi Court
Michael G. Chang

Part 4: Materials: Precious and Modest, Luxuries and Necessities

13 Brass Consumption in the Qing Empire
Lai Hui-min and Su Te-Cheng

14 Consumption as Knowledge: Pawnbrokers in Qing China Appraise Furs
Elif Akçetin

15 Consuming and Possessing Things on Paper: Examples from Late Imperial China’s Natural Studies
Martina Siebert

16 Diamonds Are a Vizier’s Best Friends or: Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa’s Jewelry Assets
Hedda Reindl-Kiel

17 Of Bricks and Tiles: The History of a Local Industry in the Area of Mürefte (Thrace)
Edhem Eldem

Elif Akçetin and Suraiya Faroqhi

Chinese Character Glossary
Specialists and graduate students in Ottoman and Chinese social history, and those who specialize in and/or are interested in the history of consumption, and more broadly material culture.